Omaha’s slick streets gone, not forgotten as complaints flow

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

One critic posted this photo on Facebook, saying, “Relax…(the city) is on the job.”

OMAHA—The season’s first winter storm has come and gone but left behind a social media blizzard of complaints targeting Republican Mayor Jean Stothert and the city’s handling of the ice and snow.

Tuesday’s slick streets also produced an online poll which finds 76 percent unhappy with the city’s road-clearing operation.

Stothert, who ran storm updates on her city hall Facebook page, tells Nebraska Watchdog her administration used social media to get current, accurate information out to the public.

In one of her last storm postings, Stothert disputed what she called “a lot of misinformation and speculation… feedback is fair, but should be based on facts.”

Dozens of tweets and Facebook comments criticized the city:

  • I live in Omaha and drove my daughter to Ralston Middle School. The only salt truck I saw this morning was on Lakeview st, a Ralston street. L st. Wasn’t touched.
  • A 15 minute trip to school and work took me 1 hr 45 min.

KFAB radio asked its listeners to grade the city’s snow operation and as of noon Wednesday (today) Ds and Fs were running rampant in the “non-scientific” poll:

  • A: 8%
  • B: 4%
  • C: 12%
  • D: 38%
  • F: 38%

Many of those posting comments to Stothert’s Facebook page were complimentary, thanking her for, among other things, keeping the public informed.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Stothert issued what she called “One final road report”:

All 5 city yards responded to the weather beginning at midnight, 30 trucks were on the street working on major roads before rush hour, one supervisor estimated we spread 100 tons of sand just this morning. It is untrue that equipment, staff, salt and sand were not available due to the Veteran’s Day holiday. We have 4500 lane miles to treat in the city, half are major and secondary streets. Before sunrise, many of the roads we treated refroze and our crews retraced their routes.—Mayor Jean Stothert on Facebook.

Stothert’s explanation fell short for some of her Facebook critics, with one writing, “Why only 30 trucks for the entire city?”

According to Stothert, the city’s forecasting service, which originally predicted a fourth of an inch of dry snow, “notified the city after 10 p.m. (Monday) that the overnight forecast had changed.”

Democratic City Councilman Garry Gernandt had Stothert’s back, to a point. “Getting trucks out with just two hours notice, hats off to (Public Works),” he posted. Gernandt quickly added,”We should reevaluate the private forecaster agreement.”

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org.

Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday morning at 7:40, KLIN in Lincoln every Tuesday morning at 7:35 and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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